Genre: Beat-‘Em-Up Developer: Virgin Int. Publisher: Virgin Int. Players: 1 Released:
Technos of Japan created one of the most memorable game series of all time with Double Dragon, and its games got ported to just about every console and portable of the time. The Sega Game Gear never reached the popularity that it needed, and it seemed like too many high profile developers didn’t want to give it the time of day and decided to instead settle for farming out their IPs to second rate developers. Double Dragon is yet another game that fell victim to farmed-out development, and it really rears its ugly head here as this is one of the worst games in the series by a long shot. It’s one you’d do well to stay far away from if you want to save your sanity.
To start things off. This game is not a port of any other Double Dragon game. Instead, it’s more of an unofficial sequel to the first Double Dragon game. Even though this game is simply called Double Dragon, the full name was supposed to be Double Dragon: The Revenge of Billy Lee. The story line has you playing as Billy who is out to avenge the death of his brother Jimmy, who turns out not to be dead and in the end, is revealed to be brainwashed and is the actual last boss of the game. Ooohh! Did I just drop a major spoiler? Yeah, but who cares? This game stinks so much that it’s not worth playing through to see the ending in the first place.
In terms of gameplay, this game is really broken, sloppy and just plain brutal with the difficulty. How many of you remember The Adventures of Bayou Billy for the NES? If you do, then Double Dragon on Game Gear plays quite similarly to that game, with enemies that always have the upper hand and can plow through your attacks without getting stunned. Most of them also have way too much health and take too long to defeat.
Just imagine a game that plays about twice as poor as Bayou Billy and you’ll have an idea as to how to gauge this game. Double Dragon plays quite differently than any of the other games in the series. One button is for your attacks, which will consist of punches and kicks, depending on where you’re standing in regards to an enemy. Your other button is a flying jump kick, and just your jump will actually hurt enemies before you actually kick, which is really sloppy feeling and hard to get used to. There are also a few other basic moves that rarely come into play throughout the game. Weapons also play a big part in the game, like they do in the others and offer all the standard fare from whips to bats and knives. There is also a hand gun, which you only find once in the first stage, but it feels tacked on since you only get to use it once in the entire game. The programmers also seemed to know the game is just too hard because if you’re able to play through any single area without taking damage, you then get an extra life. It’s also quite a bit harder than you’d think it would be, as the gameplay is just too cheap most of the time to avoid the enemies’ hits.
There is a total of six stages throughout the game, and each one is accompanied by a boss fight at the end. Most of them are just plain cheap, often spamming the same moves, many of which are very hard to dodge. This practice gets very tedious and repetitive and is also just an endurance run, since so many of the bosses are quite difficult to score hits on. All of the stages feel too long, and due to the difficulty are very slow and frustrating to play through. A complete run of the game will take at least an hour, but it starts to feel like you’ve been playing it for three or four hours by the time you’re done. That’s never a good thing.
If you do end up having the patience to sit through this game, then you’re actually treated to some nice music in a few of the stages. A few of the tunes really feel like they belong in a Double Dragon game. Many of the stages also have some really nice graphics for the backgrounds. They all work pretty well and fit right in with the theme of Double Dragon. I especially like the last two stages. Stage five is a farm with hedges, green fields, streets and sidewalks; and it all looks really nice and shines on the Game Gear. The final stage takes place in a mansion library, and the detail is stunning. It’s just a shame that not many will ever see these stages, as the programmers just didn’t put the same time into the game play as they did with the graphics.
It’s too bad that Technos, the original developer of the arcade game, had to farm this game out so many times over. Virgin Interactive did a poor job with a game that should’ve worked wonderfully and would’ve been right at home on Sega’s Game Gear, but we got another poor and rushed game from a great series that’s right where it belongs, forgotten!